Here's what you need to know about PA's trout stocking and season
More than 4 million trout will be released in Pennsylvania waterways this year, and here’s what you need to know to find them.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's crews will be placing fish in 697 streams and 126 lakes starting Feb. 21. The public is encouraged to review the stocking schedule at www.fishandboat.com, and the FishBoatPA mobile app to help place the fish in the waterways over the coming months.
Tyler Crooks, waterways conservation officer in Somerset County, is looking forward to working with the public to get the trout into the streams.
“It’s a blast. I have a good time. It’s my favorite part of the job,” he said Saturday while meeting with sportsmen groups about this year’s stocking plans.
Don Anderson, 68, and a PFBC commissioner and volunteer deputy waterways conservation officer, said: “It’s a social thing.”
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The agency is raising 3.2 million trout, and about 150 sportsmen groups across the state raise an additional 1 million trout for public fishing each year.
“The numbers have remained the same as last year and previous years, right around that 3.2 million mark is what we are striving for in adult-sized fish.” said Dave Nihart, chief of fisheries management.
“Over the last couple decades we have been shifting production to more rainbow trout and less brown trout and brook trout, and that will continue to be the same (this year),” he said.
The tally includes about 2.3 million rainbow trout; 707,000 brown trout; and 168,000 brook trout. The average size of a trout is 11 inches long.
In addition, the agency’s staff plans to release about 14,000 golden rainbow trout and about 70,000 older brood trout, which measure 14-20 inches.
When is Mentored Youth Trout Day?
Mentored Youth Trout Day starts at 8 a.m. March 25.
Youth anglers are required to have a free Mentored Youth permit or a voluntary youth fishing license ($2.97) and be accompanied by a licensed adult angler.
The voluntary purchase option helps fund the Fish and Boat Commission. The agency reports for each voluntary youth license purchased, the PFBC receives $5 back in funding as a federal reimbursement. These funds are dedicated to be used in youth outreach and education programs. The commission receives no federal reimbursement for Mentored Youth permits.
On Mentored Youth Trout Day, the participants are able to keep two trout that are at least 7 inches long. Adults are not permitted to possess trout during this event.
The youth should be able to fish with limited assistance by their mentor, and the mentor should be fishing or standing close to the child.
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When is opening day of Pa. trout season?
The statewide opening of trout season begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 1.
Anglers are able to keep five trout that are at least 7 inches long each day through Labor Day.
The extended season begins Sept. 6, and anglers can keep three trout a day.
Pa. trout fishing licenses
To catch trout, anglers 16 years and older must purchase a fishing license and a trout permit. For those who like to fish around Lake Erie and its tributaries, you can purchase a Trout/Lake Erie permit. The Lake Erie funds are used to enhance fishing opportunities, including steelhead trout, in the region.
Licenses are for sale at about 700 issuing agents like sport shops, county treasurers, and online at at www.fishandboat.com, and the FishBoatPA mobile app.
Resident licenses cost $25.47, a trout permit costs $12.47 and a combination Trout Lake Erie permit runs $18.47.
The agency also offers multi-year licenses and discounted licenses for senior citizens.
Fish For Free Days
There are two days that licenses are not required for anglers.
Sunday, May 28, of the Memorial Day weekend, and Tuesday, July 4, anyone (resident or non-resident) can legally fish on Pennsylvania waterways on the designated days without a license. Trout/salmon and Lake Erie permits are also not required). All other fishing regulations still apply.
What bait works best?
When it comes to trout, the options for baiting your hook are endless: Red worms, mealworms, maggots, salmon eggs, minnows, and salmon eggs. Trout are known to bite on a wide variety of foods.
Fly anglers replicate insects on the water with a variety of nymphs and wet and dry flies. The woolly bugger is a common one for early season fly fishing.
For those who like to cast, there are a large variety of small spinners and spoons that work well at imitating minnows in the water. Some of the more popular brands have decades of proven success: Mepps, Rooster Tail, Panther Martin, Daredevle, Kastmaster and Little Cleo.
The choice is up to the angler regarding their style of fishing. If you like waiting for a fish to bite, try the bait options. If you like to work your line, consider flies and the artificial lures.
Special regulation waters
Included in this year's stocking lists are the Keystone Select Stocked Trout Waters, a program in which sections of 24 streams across the state are stocked with large trout measuring 14-20 inches and managed under Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only or Miscellaneous Special regulations. Under the program, about 10,000 large trout will be distributed among the streams.
Waters added or extended for trout stocking:
Kinzua Creek, McKean County: A fall stocking will be added to the 4.7-mile section of stream managed under Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only (DHALO) regulations, extending from the Guffey Road bridge downstream to the Allegheny National Forest boundary near Westline. Formerly, this water had been stocked on a preseason and in-season only basis.
Pine Creek, Tioga County: A fall stocking will be added to the 3.4-mile section of stream managed under DHALO regulations, extending from Marsh Creek downstream to Bear Run. Formerly, this water had been stocked on a preseason and in-season only basis.
South Branch Tunkhannock Creek, Lackawanna and Wyoming counties: A fall stocking will be added to the 1-mile section of stream managed under DHALO regulations, extending from the State Route 6 bridge downstream through the Keystone College campus. Formerly, this water had been stocked on a preseason and in-season only basis.
Sheppard-Meyers Reservoir, York County: This 46.9-acre impoundment will be reinstated into the trout stocking program with a preseason stocking. Maintenance and repairs to the dam have been completed, and the reservoir is scheduled to be refilled to full pool in the early spring of 2023. Formerly, this water had been stocked on a preseason only basis.
Childrens Lake, Cumberland County: This 8.9-acre impoundment will be temporarily removed from the trout stocking program because of a complete drawdown of the lake that’s underway to allow for maintenance and repairs to the dam. Maintenance and repairs are scheduled to be completed in 2023, and the lake will be reinstated to the trout stocking program.
Neshannock Creek, Lawrence and Mercer counties: A decrease in stream access has led to the removal of trout stocking from a 3.6-mile section of stream extending from the Interstate 80 (I-80) bridge downstream to the Cannery Road bridge. The remaining sections of the stream, from the headwaters downstream to the I-80 bridge and from the Cannery Road bridge downstream to the mouth, will continue to be stocked during the preseason and in-season stocking periods.
Seven Mountains Boy Scout Pond, Centre County: This 2.5-acre impoundment will be removed from the adult trout stocking program because of a complete drawdown of the pond to allow for maintenance and repairs to the dam and spillway. Maintenance and repairs are scheduled to be completed in 2023, and the pond will be reinstated to the trout stocking program.
Brian Whipkey is the outdoors columnist for USA TODAY Network sites in Pennsylvania. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and sign up for our weekly Go Outdoors PA newsletter email on this website's homepage under your login name. Follow him on Facebook @whipkeyoutdoors.
This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Trout season in Pennsylvania begins Apri 1, Mentor Day March 25